Today: April 15, 2024

Il Boom

This 1963 Italian film starring Alberto Sordi, a hugely popular Roman actor at the time at his comedic best, is a bittersweet look at the 1950s economic boom in Italy, a time which transformed the country and saw everyone try to get rich quick.

This 1963 Italian
film starring Alberto Sordi, a hugely popular Roman actor at the time at his
comedic best, is a bittersweet look at the 1950s economic boom in Italy, a time
which transformed the country and saw everyone try to get rich quick.

For its creator, the Oscar-winning Vittorio De Sica, director of the masterpiece Ladri di Biciclette (Bicycle Thieves), this is a different kind of
film from the neo-realist master who also did an impressive line in Italian
comedy – less darkly impressive, but entertaining and casting that same
satirical eye over Italian society of the time.

The ever charismatic Sordi plays the part of a brow-beaten,
small-time businessman who, in order to satisfy his demanding and frivolous
wife’s need for luxury (and his own ineptitude at business), ends up getting
himself heavily into debt. But Giovanni loves Sylvia (Gianna Maria Canale), and will do anything for her.

In utter desperation and having failed at securing loans
from any of his friends or family members, he meets La Signora Bausetti, the
wife of a very rich man involved in the construction industry, who proposes
something rather unusual to get him out of his financial hole.

In a Brechtian move, she proposes that poor, gormless
Giovanni sells one of his eyes to her husband (apparently, he lost his in an
accident) for a large sum – but just before the operation is set to take place,
he bails out in a panic. In the meantime, the love of his life, having learned
that the word is out that the couple are financially ruined, has upped and left
to stay at her mother’s.

A satirical, grotesque comedy on a society’s overwhelming
obsession to be ‘respectable’ and flash your cash, Il Boom pokes fun at those
who will do almost anything to be part of the upper middle class even though, as
members of the nouveau riche, they’ll never be wholly accepted into that
elite.

With some stunning Roman locations that Italophiles will
love and a particularly impressive performance by Sordi (who proves he is much more
than just the laughs man), Il Boom seems as relevant today as it was in 1963.

Il Boom (Studiocanal)
is out to own on DVD April 23 2012 and is showing at The Italian Film Fesitval in Scotland between 18th April – 24th April.

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